Hear Ye, Hear Ye
The plan to build a cell tower near Glenbrook Park, brought
before the Shandaken Planning Board earlier this month,
has hit the public hearing stage. At 7pm on June 14th
planners will listen to all so inclined to speak out on
the project. The Tower, planned for a hillside off of
Route 42, will send signals north on that road to the
town line in Bushnellville. The signal will also transmit
west on Route 28 for a about a mile and a half,to just
just west of Golf Course Road, and travel east on 28 down
to just east of Broadstreet Hollow Road.
Planners also expect to receive an amended application
for a water harvesting project in Woodland Valley from
Andrew Poncic, who appeared at the May meeting of the
planning board to continue his six year dialogue with
the board over the details, or some would say lack of,
for his plan to truck tractor trailer loads of water out
of the head of the valley twice a day every day except
Town residents had yet another opportunity to take advantage
of Shandaken's popular metal pickup program last week.
On short notice, without any advance publicity, Shandaken
Highway Superintendent Keith Johnson said his crews would
go through the entire town the past week and pick up objects
like washing machines, driers, stoves and refrigerators
free of charge. The program ran for years under previous
highway superintendents but was canceled last year because
the highway crews were needed to make road repairs after
the April, 2005 floods
This year, the Heart of the Catskills Chamber of Commerce
attempted to take over the program, but it was shut down
last month by town Code Enforcement Officer Glenn Miller,
who claimed the Chamber was operating an illegal junk
yard by dumping the collected metals on property owned
by Frank Nazzarro in the hamlet of Shandaken. After that,
the town placed a roll-off container at the recycling
center behind the Town Hall for metal dropoff..
The Ulster County legislature is mulling a new requirement
that would force up to eight county departments to change
their budget procedures for the coming year, focusing
on specific programs and not just overall departmental
requests. The idea, say legislators, is to stem overall
tax hikes and a business-as-usual means of increasing
spending on an overall basis year to year. Under the new
procedures, department supervisors will have to file spending
requests several weeks earlier than in past budget cycles,
with explanations for major changes. The Legislature -
run by Democrats for the first time in a quarter-century
- is trying to cut spending in the wake of a $300 million
budget prepared last fall that raised the property tax
levy 38.95 percent, the highest among all counties in
Immediate budget reductions were sought in January when
officials learned a $1.31 million cash flow deficit was
$1.17 million in cuts were unanimously approved by the
legislature in recent weeks to help offset such rising
expenses as the county’s debt service, union contracts,
and health insurance needs. Other significant expenses
are expected for a potential “massive repair project”
at the Golden Hill Health Care Facility, as well as an
additional $20 million needed to complete the county’s
crazy jail project. Legislators voted 21-11 against asking
for state Legislature approval of a county mortgage tax
of 25 cents per $100, which had been projected to bring
in $1 million in new revenues.
The county is currently looking into shifting to a County
Executive form of government, as recommended by its recently-disbanded
Charter Commission, to provide better oversight in the
future. Thirty-two people have applied for the interim
job of Ulster County administrator to date, including
current Administrator Arthur Smith, amid preparations
for a referendum on a county executive form of government
expected in the coming year. Legislature Chairman David
Donaldson, D-Kingston, said he plans to meet with the
Legislature’s majority and minority leaders as early
as next week to go over the resumes. The position, which
currently pays $94,713 per year, was advertised nationally.
Mike Lee, who died unexpectedly on Saturday, May 20, was
a true friend to the town of Shandaken. That’s according
to Supervisor Bob Cross Jr., who said this past Monday
that in the past couple of years since Lee came to town,
many things were accomplished and many more were planned
because of him.
“ Mike was the type of person who doesn’t
come around often,” Cross said. “He was one
of the brightest spots in Shandaken. Gracious and big
hearted, he reached out to help the town in every way
That help came through the Lee Foundation, a Brooklyn
based non-profit, charitable organization operated by
Lee and his wife.
Workers are right now installing new handicapped accessible
bathrooms at the town’s Glenbrook Park, courtesy
of the Lee Foundation, which provided $8500 for the project.
More money is needed to finish the job, Cross said, and
Lee had made it clear that he only needed to know the
Cross said Lee also helped out with the dog kennel built
behind town hall last year, and was making plans for future
community projects that Cross would not discuss.
Further investigations into the various expenditures that
have pushed the new county jail millions over budget and
years behind schedule have revealed that the county paid
$13,000 to send sherriff’s deputies and former county
majority leader Ward Todd to jail industry conferences
at an oceanfront luxury resort in Hilton Head, S.C., in
2000, and to Las Vegas in 2001. Current Democrat Ulster
County Legislature Chairman David Donaldson said the conferences
apparently did not help the county meet its intended goal
of opening the new jail and sheriff’s complex by
the original target date of April 2004.
The Hilton Head Island conference in South Carolina took
place Oct. 15-19, 2000, less than a week before international
consulting firm Bovis Lend Lease was awarded the contract
to be the Law Enforcement Center’s construction
manager and included Todd in a junket of jail officials.
The Las Vegas conference, at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel
from May 20-24, 2001, took place at the same time that
county officials in Kingston announced there would a delay
in bidding for project’s construction jobs until
2002. The trip was authorized by Todd, who has justified
both trips as providing officials with training to ease
the transition to a new jail and helping them develop
a rapport with “players” in the construction
Legislator Richard Parete, who now chairs the Legislature’s
Law Enforcement Center Project Committee, said Todd should
pay back money provided for the trip in 2000. Todd, who
left the Legislature in June 2003 to become president
of the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, defended the
conferences as a way to stay current with jail construction
and corrections procedures but did not say whether he
would repay the conference expenses, as he did the costs
for a box of cigars uncovered in earlier investigations.
He did say, however, that he has asked for detailed information
about the conference expenses.
“In the scope of things, I think it’s a pretty
minuscule expense that was clearly necessary at the time,
and in retrospect,” Todd said recently of the expense.
On a national basis, prisons and jails added more than
1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2
million people, or one in every 136 U.S. residents, behind
bars by last summer. Of particular note in the recent
governmental report was the gain of 33,539 inmates in
jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen
J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared
with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and
federal prisons. Prisons accounted for about two-thirds
of all inmates, or 1.4 million, while the other third,
nearly 750,000, were in local jails, according to the
Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The jail population, it has been pointed out, is increasingly
unconvicted, the result of Judges proving reluctant to
release people pretrial. The report by the Justice Department
agency found that 62 percent of people in jails have not
The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia,
with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison
or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi
and Oklahoma. The states with the lowest rates were Maine,
Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire. Men
were 10 times to 11 times more likely than women to be
in prison or jail, but the number of women behind bars
was growing at a faster rate.
The racial makeup of inmates changed little in recent
years. In the 25-29 age group, an estimated 11.9 percent
of black men were in prison or jails, compared with 3.9
percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males.
No Child. Well…
Falling short of requirements under President Bush’s
education law, about 1,750 U.S. schools have been ordered
into radical “restructuring,” subject to mass
firings, closure, state takeover or other moves aimed
at wiping their slates clean. Many are finding resolutions
short of such drastic measures. But there is growing concern
that the number of schools in serious trouble under the
No Child Left Behind law is rising sharply - up 44 percent
over the past year alone - and is expected to swell by
thousands in the next few years.
Schools make the list by falling short in math or reading
for at least five straight years. In perspective, the
national total amounts to 3 percent of roughly 53,000
schools that get federal poverty aid and face penalties
under the No Child Left Behind law. But that number is
expected to grow exponentially as the government now cracks
down on schools that, it turns out, that have not been
including test scores from minority students… an
incidence involving over a quarter of all in the nation.
The Associated Press reported last month that schools
were deliberately not counting the test scores of nearly
8 million students, mostly minorities, when they measure
progress by racial groups. Those exclusions have made
it easier for schools to meet their yearly goals.
Seven states - California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan,
New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania - account for almost
70 percent of all schools ordered to restructure. Eight
other states and the District of Columbia list no schools
in critical trouble. In many cases, their school systems
do not have five straight years of test data, the amount
needed to determine whether an overhaul is required.
It has also been revealed of late that not a single state
will have a highly qualified teacher in every core class
this school year as promised by President Bush’s
education law leading the Education Department to order
every state to explain how it will have 100 percent of
its core teachers qualified - belatedly - in the 2006-07
school year. In the meantime, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho,
Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina and
Washington, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
now face the loss of federal aid because they didn’t
make enough effort to comply on time, officials said.
Department officials would not say how much aid could
be withheld from states to force compliance.
The 4-year-old No Child Left Behind law says teachers
must have a bachelor’s degree, a state license and
proven competency in every subject they teach by this
year. The first federal order of its kind, it applies
to teachers of math, history and any other core class.
Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia,
West Virginia and Wisconsin have yet to be rated.
Meanwhile, while Congress has said they are now willing
to make the No Child Left Behind law more flexible, the
Bush Administration has told them not to expect a lot
of extra federal money to help pay for any training or
other means of adding flexibility.
Democrats have long complained that the law has not been
fully funded, while Republicans argue that federal spending
on education has increased enough since the law was passed.
The House narrowly passed a 2007 budget recently that
calls for cutting federal spending on education by more
than $5 billion, about 7 percent.
Belleayre Beach opens for the season on Saturday, May
27, offering swimming, picnicking, horseshoe pits, volleyball,
basketball, boat rentals and fishing. Hours
of operation will be 10 AM to 6 PM Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays. Seven day operation will begin June 12.
Admission to the lake is $6 per carload or $1 for walk-ins.
The NYS Empire Pass is accepted and may be purchased for
$59 at the lake or by logging on to www.belleayre.com.
Pavilions are available for picnics and large gatherings.
Call 845.254.5600 for reservations. Rowboat rentals are
available at $5.00 per hour or $10.00 per four hours.
Kayaks and pedal boats are available for $5.00 per hour.
NYSDEC certified lifeguards will be on duty during operational
hours. For further information call 845.254.5600 or log
on to www.belleayre.com.
A Wired Ulster?
The Ulster County Legislature’s Administrative Services
Committee has announced that they have sent requests for
information to Wireless Internet Service providers to
create a County-wide wireless internet access system.
Committee Chairman Brian Cahill and committee member Robert
Parete have proposed this idea as a key aspect of the
recently enacted e-Ulster initiative.
Wireless internet access communities are emerging throughout
the nation, particularly in rural areas like Ulster where
high speed internet access is extremely limited. Cahill
said, “Developing a high speed, affordable, wireless,
internet access infrastructure has proven to be a key
economic development tool. Many companies can not relocate
or build in an area that does not provide what has become
a necessary tool for business.”
Parete states, “As a resident of the Town of Olive,
I can personally express the frustration many residents
feel as a result of not having adequate high speed internet
connection available. In addition, this initiative will
facilitate greater capability and access to create the
conditions that allow businesses to be more competitive.
At the same time, this plan will encourage and expand
commerce of all scopes to compete in the global market.”
The Administrative Services Committee will compile information
and solicit opinions and ideas from local governments
and industry experts to determine the most effective means
of implementing this initiative.
While Ulster County mulls the idea, Andrew Halpern of
Tivoli, president of the company American WiFi, has already
launched an effort to bring wireless Internet service
to individual communities, including his hometown, where
a contract has been sealed. Halpern has also pitched his
plan to the Kingston Mayor James Sottile and the Common
Council to bring free limited wireless Internet service
to the city, along with a paid service, free of advertising
or time limits, at $19.95 per month. He said he would
be willing to present his plan to the Ulster County Legislature.
But he said he is prepared to seek approval from rural
municipalities, like Marbletown, to provide the same service.
Halpern said that if all goes as planned, he could provide
the service to all Ulster County towns within two years.
Unlike major corporations, he said, he does not need to
make millions, so he’s able to provide the service
for free or at a reasonable cost. He just needs permission
from local governments to place antennas on some public
buildings, but he said his plan does not require the use
of taxpayer money.
Cahill said that he hopes Halpern is successful in his
endeavor, but said he wants to hear from other companies
that could provide the service. “The purpose of
this is to make sure that we can get everybody access,”
Parete said there is a possibility that the county could
place antennas in rural areas on structures it owns, or
somehow interconnect them with the 911 system.
Republicans in county government are pooh-poohing the
idea, saying the internet is not that important as to
use public tax fnds.
Republican are joining the congressional drive to eliminate
the financial penalty for people who missed the recent
deadline for enrolling in the Medicare drug benefit, the
latest sign of a growing rebellion against President Bush
on the issue. Rep. Nancy Johnson has said she has talked
to enough colleagues to believe such a proposal would
pass, probably in the fall, and plans to introduce legislation
to waive the penalty.
“The bottom line is this is a democracy, and the
Congress responds to the people and shapes the program
so it’s good for them,” said Johnson, who
heads the House Ways and Means’ subcommittee on
health. “I think it’s fair and reasonable
to eliminate the penalty” for 2006, the Connecticut
Republican told The Associated Press in an interview.
With the endorsement by one of the program’s leading
supporters, Johnson joins the handful of GOP lawmakers
in the House and Senate who have split publicly with the
Bush’s administration’s position that the
enrollment deadline and late penalty should remain.
The administration has made an exception for people who
qualify for extra help because of their low income.
Under current law, people who wait until December to enroll
would have $2.31 per month added to their monthly premium.
That amount would rise annually to reflect the national
average premium for that particular year.
Johnson said the drive to waive the penalty does not reflect
concerns about a program criticized by Democrats as more
beneficial to drug companies and insurers than to older
people and the disabled.
Democrats pledge to keep pressing to extend the deadline
and waive the penalty for people who sign up over the
rest of the year.
The administration’s latest estimate indicates that
about 6 million beneficiaries remain without prescription
drug coverage. Democrats contend the number is probably
closer to 9 million.
The government abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless
eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency
refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary
security clearance to probe the matter. The way things
turned out, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional
Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey
saying they were closing their inquiry because without
clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers’
role in the program.
“We have been unable to make any meaningful progress
in our investigation because OPR has been denied security
clearances for access to information about the NSA program,”
OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey’s
office shared the letter with The Associated Press.
Jarrett wrote that beginning in January, his office has
made a series of requests for the necessary clearances.
Those requests were denied.
“Without these clearances, we cannot investigate
this matter and therefore have closed our investigation,”
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the
terrorist surveillance program “has been subject
to extensive oversight both in the executive branch and
in Congress from the time of its inception.” He
further noted the OPR’s mission is not to investigate
possible wrongdoing in other agencies, but to determine
if Justice Department lawyers violated any ethical rules.
He declined to comment when asked if the end of the inquiry
meant the agency believed its lawyers had handled the
wiretapping matter ethically.
Hinchey is one of many House Democrats who have been highly
critical of the domestic eavesdropping program first revealed
in December. He said lawmakers would push to find out
who at the NSA denied the Justice Department lawyers security
“This administration thinks they can just violate
any law they want, and they’ve created a culture
of fear to try to get away with that. It’s up to
us to stand up to them,” said Hinchey.
And all this on the same day it was revealed that the
NSA had been collecting data on huge numbers of domestic
phone calls in recent year.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Arlen Spector, has accused the White House of a ‘’very
blatant encroachment” on congressional authority,
and said he will hold an oversight hearing into President
Bush’s assertion that he has the power to bypass
more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.
‘’There is some need for some oversight by
Congress to assert its authority here,” Arlen Specter,
Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. ‘’What’s
the point of having a statute if . . . the president can
cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn’t like?”
Specter said he plans to hold the hearing in June. He
said he intends to call administration officials to explain
and defend the president’s claims of authority,
as well to invite constitutional scholars to testify on
whether Bush has overstepped the boundaries of his power.
The senator emphasized that his goal is ‘’to
bring some light on the subject.” Legal scholars
say that, when confronted by a president encroaching on
their power, Congress’s options are limited. Lawmakers
can call for hearings or cut the funds of a targeted program
to apply political pressure, or take the more politically
charged steps of censure or impeachment.
Specter’s announcement followed a report that Bush
has quietly challenged provisions in about 1 in 10 of
the bills that he has signed, asserting the authority
to ignore more than 750 statutes. Over the past five years,
Bush has stated that he can defy any statute that conflicts
with his interpretation of the Constitution. In many instances,
Bush cited his role as head of the executive branch or
as commander in chief to justify the exemption.
The statutes that Bush has asserted the right to override
include numerous rules and regulations for the military,
job protections for whistle-blowers who tell Congress
about possible government wrongdoing, affirmative action
requirements, and safeguards against political interference
in federally funded research.
Bush made the claims in ‘’signing statements,”
official documents in which a president lays out his interpretation
of a bill for the executive branch, creating guidelines
to follow when it implements the law. The statements are
filed without fanfare in the federal record, often following
ceremonies in which the president made no mention of the
objections he was about to raise in the bill, even as
he signed it into law.
Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said via e-mail
that if Specter calls a hearing, ‘’by all
means we will ensure he has the information he needs.”
She pointed out that other presidents dating to the 19th
century have ‘’on occasion” issued statements
that raise constitutional concerns about provisions in
new laws. But while previous presidents did occasionally
challenge provisions in laws while signing them, legal
scholars say, the frequency and breadth of Bush’s
use of that power are unprecedented.
Former state Assemblyman John Faso of Columbia County
is talking about capping all school budget increases to
4 percent a year, no matter the circumstances, as part
of his bid for governor: taxes and jobs, in which he first
faces former Massachusetts governor (and new Delaware
County resident) William Weld before taking on Democratic
candidate Eliot Spitzer in November. He also proposes
revising state rules mandating the number of contractors
that must be hired in school construction projects. He
said that if his proposals were implemented, he would
also call for a better exemption package under the state’s
School Tax Relief program, commonly known as STAR.
Faso, who lost a 2002 bid to become the state comptroller,
said he is in the race, in part, to give voters a choice.
In the 2002 race, he lost by 3 percentage points to the
Democratic victor, Alan Hevesi.
They’re back—and they’re hungry! Gypsy
moths and tent caterpillars, two of the most voracious
forest pests in the Northeast, are poised to once again
cause serious defoliation of region’s shade, fruit
and ornamental trees. Both species feed on the leaves
of trees commonly found in our forests and backyards such
as oak, elm, ash, cherry, crab apple and dogwoods. Any
trees, particularly conifers, that suffer from two successive
years of defoliation usually don’t survive so it’s
important to be on the look out for these brutal bugs.
Early detection can be the key to preventing lasting damage.
Eastern and forest tent caterpillar populations are expected
to be heavy again this year. These insects spin white
“tents” that appear in a branch crotch or
tree stem in late April or early May. Their eggs hatch
and the larvae begin feeding in early spring shortly after
leaves begin to appear, causing defoliation very early
in the growing season. Feeding is usually completed by
late June. Controlling these pests involves pruning off
or removing egg masses prior to hatch or manually knocking
the web nests from the trees. Heavily defoliated trees
will often be stimulated to produce more leaves; however,
another disturbance, such as a drought, may stress trees
causing a dieback.
The gypsy moth is the most important defoliating insect
of hardwoods in the northeast. They prefer to feed on
oaks, apple, basswood, some birches, poplar, tamarack
and willow trees. A single defoliation can kill some evergreens,
but usually it takes two or more defoliations to kill
hardwoods. Their eggs which hatch in April and May can
be found in tan masses on the bark of trees. The caterpillars
feed for six to eight weeks turning into moths by late
July. Gypsy moths are imported pest with very few naturally
occurring controls. Scraping the fuzzy buff colored egg
masses into a container and destroying before they hatch
may provide some control.
For Fact Sheets about Tent Caterpillars or Gypsy Moths,
please visit: http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/ulster or
call the Master Gardener Hotline, 845-340-3478.
The government won’t be ready for another major
disaster such as Hurricane Katrina unless the Pentagon
takes a more aggressive role in the federal response,
congressional investigators said in a recent report which
also noted that poor planning and confusion about the
military’s role contributed to problems after the
storm struck on Aug. 29, 2005. It urged the Defense Department
to establish procedures to speed aircraft, troops and
reconnaissance gear to hurricane -stricken areas when
local and state officials are overwhelmed as well as beef
up communications support to Homeland Security officials,
who have the lead role in a disaster.
“The devastation of Katrina and the issues it revealed
serve as a warning that actions are needed,” said
the report by Congress’ investigative arm. “Without
urgent and detailed attention to improve planning, the
military and federal government risk being unprepared.”
In recent weeks, defense officials have stocked up on
cellular and satellite phone vans, begun updating their
emergency response plans and have placed specially trained
military personnel into the Federal Emergency Management
Agency regional offices, the Pentagon has replied.
The report comes as the Bush administration contemplates
the proper domestic role of the military as it faces long-term
obligations in Iraq. Previous White House and congressional
investigations into the Katrina response have said the
military should take on a greater role. President Bush
also has said he plans to shore up the Mexican border
with National Guard troops paid for by the federal government.
Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions
since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra
efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N.
report has said. Habitats ranging from coral reefs to
tropical rainforests face mounting threats, the Secretariat
of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in
the report, issued at the start of a March 20-31 U.N.
meeting in Curitiba, Brazil.
“In effect, we are currently responsible for the
sixth major extinction event in the history of earth,
and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million
years ago,” said the 92-page Global Biodiversity
Outlook 2 report. Apart from the disappearance of the
dinosaurs, the other “Big Five” extinctions
were about 205, 250, 375 and 440 million years ago. Scientists
suspect that asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions or sudden
climate shifts may explain the five.
A rising human population of 6.5 billion was undermining
the environment for animals and plants via pollution,
expanding cities, deforestation, introduction of “alien
species” and global warming, it said, estimating
that the current pace of extinctions was 1,000 times faster
than historical rates, jeopardizing a global goal set
at a 2002 U.N. summit in Johannesburg “to achieve,
by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of
“Unprecedented additional efforts’ will be
needed to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target at national,
regional and global levels,” it said. The report
was bleaker than a first U.N. review of the diversity
of life issued in 2001.
About 190 nations met in Germany in recent weeks to try
to bridge vast policy gaps between the United States and
its main allies over how to combat climate change amid
growing evidence that the world is warming. The May 15-16
“dialogue” involved around 40 rich nations
which are capping emissions of heat-trapping gases under
the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol, as well as outsiders
such as the United States and developing nations.
“Scientific evidence of the dramatic effects of
human-induced climate change is becoming stronger,”
said Richard Kinley, acting head of the U.N. Climate Change
Secretariat. “Governments need to agree on how the
world is to reduce emissions within two to three years.”
President George W. Bush denounces Kyoto as an economic
straitjacket that unfairly excludes developing nations
from a first round to 2012 even though almost all his
industrial allies back the scheme. Rather than binding
caps on emissions, Bush favors big investments in technology
such as hydrogen or solar power. Many developing nations
say that rich states should take the lead in cuts before
asking them to restrain emissions.
“The dialogue will take the form of an open, non-binding
exchange of views, information and ideas,” the United
States said in a note to the Bonn talks of senior officials,
reminding them of a limited mandate agreed in Montreal
Us Vs Them
Middle-aged, white Americans are much sicker than their
counterparts in England, startling new research shows,
despite U.S. health care spending per person that is more
than double what Britain spends. A higher rate of Americans
tested positive for diabetes and heart disease than the
British. Americans also self-reported more diabetes, heart
attacks, strokes, lung disease and cancer. The gap between
countries holds true for educated and uneducated, rich
“At every point in the social hierarchy there is
more illness in the United States than in England and
the differences are really dramatic,” said study
co-author Dr. Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University
College London in England.
The United States spends about $5,200 per person on health
care while England spends about half that in adjusted
“Everybody should be discussing it: Why isn’t
the richest country in the world the healthiest country
in the world?” Marmot said.
Smoking rates are about the same on both sides of the
pond. Britons have a higher rate of heavy drinking, but
a higher percentage of Americans are obese.
The researchers crunched numbers to create a hypothetical
statistical world in which the English had Americans’
lifestyle risk factors. In that model, in which the English
were as fat as the Americans, the researchers found Americans
still would be sicker.
Only non-Hispanic whites were included in the study to
eliminate the influence of racial disparities. The researchers
looked only at people ages 55 through 64, and the average
age of the samples was the same.
Americans reported twice as much diabetes as the English:
12.5 percent vs. 6 percent. High blood pressure was reported
by 42 percent of Americans and 34 percent of English.
Cancer showed up in 9.5 percent of Americans and 5.5 percent
of the English. The upper crust in both countries were
healthier than middle-class and low-income people in the
same country. But richer Americans’ health status
resembled the health of the low-income English.
Health experts have known the United States population
is less healthy than that of other industrialized nations,
according to several important measurements. For example,
U.S. life expectancy ranks behind that of about two dozen
other countries, according to World Health Organization
Some believe the U.S. has lagged because it has a more
ethnically diverse population than some of the higher-ranking
countries, like Iceland and Sweden, said Richard Suzman
of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. But the new
study showed that when minorities are removed from the
equation, and adjustments are made to control for education
and income, white people in England are still healthier
than white people in the United States.
One possible explanation may be the United States has
been going through an obesity epidemic that only just
recently has begun impacting the United Kingdom. Because
the most recent data in the study is at least three years
old, the disparity in the two nations’ obesity problems
may seem especially pronounced, he said. Marmot offered
an explanation for the gap: Americans’ financial
insecurity. Improvements in household income have eluded
all but the top 20 percent of Americans since the mid-1970s.
Meanwhile, the British saw their incomes improve, he said.
Robert Blendon, professor of health policy at the Harvard
School of Public Health, said the stress of striving for
the American dream may account for Americans’ lousy
health. He was not involved in the study. “The opportunity
to go both up and down the socioeconomic scale in America
may create stress,” Blendon said. Americans have
more chances to both succeed and fail. They do not have
a reliable government safety net like the English enjoy,
The Pine Hill Community Center is seeking artists of every
discipline (photography, painting, sculpture, computer,
pottery, dance, etc.) to participate in our Second Annual
The Artist Next Door Studio Tour Program on September
10, 2006. Participating Artists must have a working studio
in Shandaken, and need to be free that entire day. Chosen
participants will be compensated. Call 254-5469 or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
A Wetlands Guided Exploration will take place on Saturday
June 3 from 9am to 11 am at the Zen Environmental Studies
Institute, Mt Tremper. Why are wetlands important? Who
lives there? Led by local ecologist Spider Barbour, the
event will seek to answer such pertinent questions.To
reserve a place please call 845 688 2228. The event is
free and hosted by the Esopus Creek Stream Management
Plan Outreach Program.
On June 10, the Phoenicia Library will be holding its
annual Library Fair on Main STreet in the hamlet. Donations
of books and other items, including talent and time, is
currently being sought.